Showing posts from February 9, 2015

Liberal MPs bill to resurrect long-form census voted down on second reading

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[A foray in the ongoing battle between evidence and ideology in Canadian politics today. This has received little coverage in the mainstream media. On the plus side the Bill helped raise some awareness on the issue and had multi-partisan support in the House of Commons. *RON*]

By The Canadian Press / Winnipeg Free Press, 4 February 2015

OTTAWA - Liberal MP Ted Hsu's drive to resurrect the long-form census has come to an end.

His private member's bill to bring back the long-form census and bolster the independence of the chief statistician was voted down on second reading in the Commons on Wednesday.

Bill C-626 had the support of the opposition parties but Conservatives had said they were opposed to the core principles of the bill, arguing it would legally compel Canadians to answer intrusive questions.

Many groups including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, municipalities and religious groups backed the return of the long-form census, saying …

The Foolish, Historically Illiterate, Incredible Response to Obama's Prayer Breakfast Speech

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[One thing that is rarely spoken to power in today's United States is the truth. Using religion to brutalize other people is not a Muslim invention, nor is it foreign to the American experience. *RON*]
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic Monthly, 6 February 2015

People who wonder why the president does not talk more about race would do well to examine the recent blow-up over his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast. Inveighing against the barbarism of ISIS, the president pointed out that it would be foolish to blame Islam, at large, for its atrocities. To make this point he noted that using religion to brutalize other people is neither a Muslim invention nor, in America, a foreign one:
Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the …

Rise in financial alchemy is worryingly familiar

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[Caveat emptor. As long as Wall Street is never held accountable for its mistakes it will, naturally, never learn from them. *RON*]

Tracy Alloway, Financial Times, 6 February 2015
Low yields mean risky inventions are bound to spring up
Those searching for evidence of Wall Street’s never-ending wackiness need look no further than the man who is convinced investors are wary of corporate bonds because the debt is just too risky.

As detailed by Bloomberg this week, John “Mac” McQuown wants to create a hybrid security, known as an eBond, that would embed credit default swaps (CDS) into corporate debt. Doing so would automatically impart default insurance to each security, stripping out the so-called credit risk associated with issuers.

Since many CDS are now traded via a central counterparty, the technique theoretically also strips out counterparty risk associated with the seller of the swap. Et voilà — a corporate bond is rendered an ostensibly risk fr…

Some “Walter White” Pharma Sales Reps Make an “Ungodly” Amount of Money

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[I can't post 19 minutes of video using the Blogger service, so I've given you a link to the video here and at the end of the article. *RON*]
By PharmaGuy, Pharma Marketing Blog, 9 February 2015

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is back on HBO and the pharmaceutical industry was the centerpiece of last night's show in which Oliver spent more than 17 minutes educating the audience on the industry's marketing practices.

Oliver began by citing some statistics such as annual sales of Rx drugs in America amount to over $1,000 per person. "Walter White could have made more money cooking up arthritis medications," quipped Oliver.

I'm not sure arthritis is where the real pharma money is these days -- maybe orphan drugs (see here and here) or cancer drugs (see here), certainly Hep C drugs (see here) are where the real money is.

Oliver focuses mostly on physician marketing and pharma sales reps. He begins by showing segments fro…

Samsung warns people not to discuss ‘sensitive information’ in front of their SmartTV

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[Holy crap! The "Internet of Things" is spinning out of control. *RON*]

Joshua Barrie, Financial Post, 9 February 2015
Samsung’s new SmartTV has a cool new voice-command feature, through which the internet-connected device could record everything you say and transmit it to a third party, The Daily Beast writes.

The company’s voice-recognition software allows viewers to communicate with their television by talking to it. It is enabled when a microphone symbol appears. Basically, instead of using a traditional remote control to change the channel, people can simply ask their Samsung TV to change it for them by uttering a few words.

CRA has new mandate to fight crime by passing suspect info to police

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[Harper is a totalitarian at heart; he would really rock a pair of jack-boots. "The list of offences is disturbingly broad and amounts to a fundamental change in allowing the agency to hand information to police without a court-ordered warrant -- even when the alleged crimes have nothing to do with taxes...'Where is this need coming from?' said Toronto lawyer Glen Jennings, 'They still haven't provided examples of where this has come up before, so it still leaves me scratching my head.'" *RON*]

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press / CTV News, 8 February 2015

OTTAWA -- The federal revenue agency can now hand the police possible evidence of serious crime -- including terrorist activity -- that it happens to come across while reviewing taxpayer files.

The Canada Revenue Agency gained the little-noticed new authority, which does not require a judicial warrant, through an amendment tucked into the government's most recent…